There are times in my life when I am reminded HARD just how small we are in the universe. People I mean. We think we master the world right? We have developed all this technology, we have high speed Internet, super high speed travel, we can trot around the globe and we can practically control the weather, right?
I guess I am in a reflective mood this season, heading down into the pit and all....but I was remembering a whale spotting cruises I participated on a couple of years back on a lovely but windy day off the coast of the Pacific. I took my Dramamine and prepared for a wonderful afternoon full of wildlife spotting and fun. And it was fun! But, it was rough. Very rough. The Captain said when we left the dock that the winds were worse than usual and that the water would be "choppy". We maneuvered our way out of the harbor and into the open ocean, picking up speed. The waves rolled and rocked the boat in that rhythmic way that waves do. And then they got bigger...and bigger....
The Dramamine protected my stomach. But after crashing into those waves over and over, after hitting several hard and feeling the boat lurch just slightly backwards, I started thinking how I had come to a place
mysterious and harsh. A place where we could matter very little at any given moment. It was frightening.
Not in the "oh my gawd I'm scared" way. Just in the way that I recognize when I am experiencing what
I know to be sacred, powerful, deadly, lovely. During the worst of the ride, we came upon an enormous pod of dolphins. The guide explained how we would get close and they would actually seem to swim with the ship. At certain points it seemed to me that if I just reached out over the edge I could actually touch them. They were that close. And they were so beautiful, floating through the waves, dashing this way and that way. It almost seemed like they were playing hide and seek with our little boat, sort of laughing at us as we bobbed violently up and down in the choppy water. I found myself getting mesmerized by those dolphins, almost like they were the mermaids of fishermen's tales.
Being a water sign I always feel at home at the ocean. But, until that trip I have never really been in the ocean. Really out in it. It left me unsettled. There is so much about nature that I love deeply. There is so much that I fear. I guess that is part of worshipping something greater than ourselves. We have to
understand that we are the masters of our own lives and destiny but we are not the masters of what we hold sacred. We are truly not in control of this vast universe. We are but one small part of greatness and when we glimpse that power we are left in awe.
I was sitting at camp the other day watching Autumn roll in with a cleansing rain, almost like it was washing the pallet of life in the world and preparing it for new colors. Leaves now slowly and turn in the breeze. The air is crisp and heavy all at the same time.
Right now, summer is holding fast, like someone suspended from an inevitable fall. Its grip fails ever so slightly as days grow shorter...
I tend to believe it is difficult for the seasons. A death each and every year. They are primed and alive and powerful for such a brief time and then they falter little by little, until that precious grip slips and they tumble away, free falling into some unknown place where they must rest to be reborn.
The older I become the more I appreciate each and every one of them. I have always considered myself a child of summer. I love the heat, the humidity, the frenzy of bees and flowers. The high sun and the long days. I have spent half a lifetime dreaming of warm places while the winter wind rages, thinking about how I will retire to a life of never having to think about putting on a coat and gloves to walk outside.
And now.... Now, oddly it occurred to me while at my beloved beach this year what my life would be without the opportunity to enjoy each and every season. To see life and death and renewal right before my eyes every few months. To know that nature is so close to me and that all I have to do is walk out the door and be in it. All of it. No matter what time of year. I decided I would not enjoy that life nearly as much or appreciate the opportunities it affords me.
So my mom lives in Florida and sits by her pool in October. I don't want to sit by a pool in October! I have other things to do in October. LOL. And I want to be saying to Sam when we are 90 - hey, they cleared the road of snow yesterday do you think we can get to camp? I want to plant stuff in the spring and wonder when the hummingbirds will return, to enjoy a warm fire on a frakin' cold night, hear the peepers for the first time each spring and squeal like a little kid with delight...
So, I guess I have become a season junkie in my old age and I hope to see SO MANY MORE of them come and go.
I talk a lot here about going to camp and other far away from the modern
world places and how it is cleansing to the mind and the soul. I think it
cuts the chatter. I know it cuts out the negativity that can slip into our
lives under cover of darkness like those little things we used to be afraid of
at night. When we were young we knew to fear the stuff in the back of our
closet and under our bed. But now, as adults we simply don't recognize
them sometimes behind their fake smiles and general conversation. They are
people and situations and mindsets that do very little for us but we are used to them, or maybe we feel loyal to them or maybe even we are afraid to let go of them because we have come to depend on them in some manner.
When I was a little girl I was very sensitive. Hard to believe now I realize but it is true. LOL. When things would close in on me or I was unsure or just felt "ikky" I would always turn to nature. And I do the same now with camp or outdoor projects. There is nothing like dirt to cure the world's negative tendencies.
I think to cope with daily life you sometimes have to ask yourself - what am I getting from this? It isn't a
selfish question. You think it is because you have been trained to think that way. You were a good girl and put your napkin in your lap when you were told to do so. I bet you did! ;) It is OK, so did I. But, we must learn this: ME FIRST. And in the land of ME FIRST you ask yourself - what am I getting from this? Whether it be job, friendship, relationship, membership, community, family, etc. Ask it. Then listen clearly for the answer because it is there. You just have to let it in.
If the answer is that you are getting love, respect, caring, growing...well, carry on then! But it is likely that if you have to ask the question these aren't the things you are getting. So then comes decision time.
Obviously there are some things one can't just move on from in a split second. Others we can quite easily though and we should.
The Internet is a glorious thing. A wealth of information right at your fingertips and so many wonderful people to meet and get to know. But, like any school, community, city, planet, there are things that will drain you and take rather than give, pick away rather than put back and generally suck the life out of you while you keep coming back for more. It isn't even the fault of anyone sometimes. It is just the nature of people
and the oh so very vast yet very, very small world we live in.
I grew up in a rather small town. The population was around 700 to 800 I think. Of course I am of that generation that remembers when we didn't have no Internet but man I never will forget.... So, yeah, OK I am older. There WAS NO jumping on-line to meet, learn, veg, talk, hide. My outlets were nature, fantasy, books and music. I would walk two miles to the library just to immerse myself in something other than reality. I would hike all day with my dog. I would pretend to be someone else, somewhere else and most of the time I actually believed it. And if the night was clear and I could place the radio in exactly the perfect spot, I could actually tune in a program called Rock Over London that was a broadcast on the major rock station out of Pittsburgh. That was where I discovered punk music. Books were where I learned about elves and faeries. Fantasy was how I dealt with mundane life.
And I knew....well I knew what I KNEW from my own experience and I trusted that experience AND my instincts. I think we don't do that very well anymore. I think we start to question ourselves too readily when there is so much information, opinion and chatter available to us at the click of a key. I think we forget what we even like or are capable of and/or what is relevant. Instead of doing what is best for us we listen to the next expert in whatever it is we think we give a shit about and we do this because we should, right? Because it is the "in" thing to care about, be, look like... We forget what we knew or thought or believed because the person "talking" to us has a certificate or won a contest or wrote an eBook or says that he/she knows better than we do about whatever subject it is we are obsessed with and of course we are obsessed with it because we have ALL.THIS.INFORMATION readily available and if we can just piece it together perfectly then it will all make sense, right?
Do you see why we all feel nuts? And alone? And less than we are?
And this is what I have been dealing with on some level for almost a year now. So, in the last few months I have really cut back on my web time and even my time on things related to this person I am on-line and really really asked myself that question. Remember the question? Yes - what am I getting from this?
That question led me to contemplating a shift in my practice. It will likely result in a change in my podcast work, my writing, my genetic spiritual make-up if I can go so far.... That question is what led me to stop frequenting "fitness and health" sites and try to listen to my own mind and experience instead, not to mention my own body that I have lived in for almost 50 years. That question led me to physically purge a great deal of junk I had accumulated over time recently. It led me to explore a deeper relationship with my horse whether others agreed with my methods or not. It let me rest. Then it got me off my ass and pulled me back into the world. So, that question is allowing me to OMG can you dig it? ~ ride, read, run, fantasize, listen to and play music, laugh, dance, cook, dream, rest and even get some damn work done.
That question brought me back to...me. And it brought me back to the earth and the fact that in the end I have to trust and be OK with myself. We all do. That is ALL we need to do...
Well, fall is upon us! Leaves are starting to flutter through the air. The days are getting shorter and this is obvious already as when I left early for work this morning it was still partially dark. The magic of nature is something I am fascinated with and feel very fortunate to be a part of. It will become clear why I feel this way so strongly as this post goes on but I have mentioned in the past that my connection with the earth has always brought me peace of mind.
Sometimes it brings sorrow too but I always hold fast to the earth and the creatures and beings upon it. Plants, trees, bugs, deer, rocks, rivers, oceans...pretty much everything on earth fascinates me except people. People do not fascinate me at all, except to sometimes mouth the overused - really? LOL.
Last fall I developed an interest in the Druid path through a friendship that means a great deal to me and also my ever-growing inability to relate what I feel has become the "modern Pagan" mindset as a whole. My friend described to me what is referred to as the Ovate aspect - that earthy, seeing, seeking
creature fascinated with healing, herbs, divination, animal and nature premonition. Someone able to conceive of time and space, cycles of life and death and basically the dark and light, predator and prey, the beauty of the All and the Nothing... I felt like there was something there for me. Maybe not as an outright complete shift in my focus but as a supplement to my learning.
Because the feeling of being the shadow, the other, the hidden, the earth child ~ this is very close to me. I have always felt very drawn to the water but the earth is where I am firmly rooted. I belong to the earth and what is here. I like the smell of dirt. LOL. I like digging in it and I don't mind it on me. I think it represents work and worth. The earth, I was told as a child, is the Devil's playground. And since I thought that Christianity was my only option at the time I felt sorry for that because the earth, to me, was SO beautiful and special and I LOVED it so much. How could earth belong to someone so supposedly horrible?
Yes, yet another reason I asked bad questions in Sunday school and the teachers hated me. Their second mistake I suppose was insisting that animals did not have souls. LOL.
So that supplement has served me well and furthered my love for the ground I walk upon and the things I share this world with. At this time, on the verge of a season, I feel like something inside my framework of belief has shifted even further though. My beliefs are more base, more simple, more upsetting to others now. They are less complicated, less glorified and probably less popular.
I'm walking into darkness with a new sense of nothing and everything and time will not stop. So neither will I.